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Book Rec: Incognito by David Eagleman

Updated: 5 days ago

“We believe we're seeing the world just fine until it's called to our attention that we're not.”

If the conscious mind - the part you consider to be you - is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing? I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration of the secret life of the brain. Definitely a different read for me, but I encourage you to pick it up.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman explores many questions I didn’t even have and navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries:

Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead?

Why do you hear your name being mentioned in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to?

What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common?

Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916?

Why are people whose names begin with J more likely to marry other people whose names begin with J?

Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?

And how is it possible to get angry at yourself - who, exactly, is mad at whom?

book jacket in bright yellow with the title and author along with a blue outline of a face with a smaller white outline of the same face in reverse inside of it

Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is an exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does Eagleman mean when he says the brain is a “team of rivals?”

  2. Why does he say we can’t trust our senses? Do you agree?

  3. Eagleman proposes a criminal system with rehabilitation of criminals based on scientific research and customize brain work. Is this practical?

  4. Discuss Eagleman’s argument on free will. How do your personal beliefs shape your response?

If you liked this book, you might like to learn about the girl's Brain on Fire!

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Jun 10, 2023
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